An explosion at a Louisiana natural gas facility Thursday left three workers dead and two seriously injured, police said.
The explosion happened about 11 a.m. at a facility owned by the Transcontinental Gas Pipeline Co., a subsidiary of major natural gas supplier Williams Partners, authorities said. The facility is located on a small highway near the oil and gas city of Houma.
The workers killed and injured were contractors doing maintenance work when the explosion occurred, Williams Partners said in a statement. The names of the victims and the company or companies they worked for were not released immediately. Williams Partners said its 13 workers at the facility were unharmed.
"We are deeply saddened by this tragedy," said Williams operations manager Warren Toups.
In the statement, Williams Partners said the facility was shut down and no gas was flowing through its pipeline at the time of the explosion. The company said service to its customers had not been interrupted.
The bodies of the three workers were found following the explosion, said state police Trooper Evan Harrell. Black smoke billowed from the facility hours after the explosion. Officials said the smoke posed no health risks, and no evacuations were ordered.
The company said the maintenance work involved a "slug catcher," a tank designed to separate liquids and impurities from the natural gas stream.